In the fall of 2014, I decided to make reading a more important, regular part of my life. You can read about that here.
This year I am doing a reading challenge. You can read about it here.
For 2016, I also decided to start using GoodReads to keep track of my reading so please follow me over there if you are interested.
Here are the reviews I wrote in 2015:
27. Breakfast as Tiffany’s by Truman Capote~ This is SO good. I love Capote’s writing style and Holly Golightly is absolutely captivating. I pity her, I hold her in contempt, I love her, I hate her, just like the narrator does. The ending is perfect and especially hits home to me, because it has to do with her cat. A quick read, I highly recommend it.
26. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens~ I like to read a Christmas-y novel at Christmastime but this was my first time actually reading this one. It was a quick, fun read for the season. To celebrate finishing, I convinced my family to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol with me on Christmas morning.
25. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving~ This was my favorite book from college and it was my first time rereading it. Now that I am finished, I just want to read it again, I miss Owen so much. Instead, I have convinced Sung to read it and I regularly have to pretend I am not watching him read. The night he started reading it I actually got too excited to sleep, I was just dying to see what he thought. This story is so complex and beautiful with a depth I have only begun to understand in my second read. I plan to read it again sometime. Even though the author is not a Christian but chose to write about Christian characters, there is so much he gets right about faith, I think. It is challenging to me. I cannot recommend this book enough!
24. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen~ This is my first Jane Austen not for school and not supported by a film. It felt very familiar, similar in so many ways to Pride and Prejudice, but I honestly had trouble guessing what would happen next and it kept me on my toes. As a reward, I watched the movie when I was done and I think it was an excellent portrayal. I highly recommend both!
23. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton~ This was my car book for much of the summer. I liked it so much better than the movie. Also, it raises a lot of questions about ethics and science that I hadn’t really considered before. I highly recommend it.
22. Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling~ Since I loved her first book and I was kind of stuck in the middle of something else not making much progress, I was swept into the hype of Why Not Me the week it came out. It was so hilarious and I really enjoyed it.
21. If by Amy Carmichael~ I listened to this one on Audible. Another challenging book by a missionary! This is a simple pamphlet was written by Amy Carmichael, originally for her ministry partners. It is a super quick read and available for free if you click the link here.
20. Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom~ I couldn’t get enough. Immediately after finishing The Hiding Place I got Tramp for the Lord on Audible. It tells the stories of Ten Boom’s life after the Holocaust, as she travels (or tramps across) the world to tell what God did in her life. It is amazing because, at each step of the way she simply asks “Lord, where would you have me go?” and follows without questioning. As she continues to step out in faith, she continues to experience God’s presence and guidance. It is a truly challenging book.
19. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom~ This was my first time reading The Hiding Place but I thought I basically knew the story. I found out there was so much more to the story than I ever knew! This book details the life and ministry of Corrie Ten Boom and her family before and during WW2 as they help hundreds of Jews escape the Nazis and eventually go to a concentration camp themselves. Her honesty about her own experiences as well as her unwavering faith touched me most in this story. It’s the best book I read this year and I couldn’t put it down!
17. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson~ This Christian book on prayer encourages the reader to go deeper into prayer and to challenge their faith by asking seemingly impossible things of God. I found it really challenging and encouraging.
16. Wild by Cheryl Strayed~ Another non-fiction, one woman’s memoir of grieving her mother’s death and hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail. Her stories from the PCT are just normal adventure stories. What I found so compelling about this book was the way she intertwined flashbacks to her past and her grieving seamlessly into the narrative. I was grateful to be allowed on the journey with her!
15. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling~ THIS BOOK GOT ME THROUGH MY 14 HOUR FLIGHT HOME FROM KOREA. Thank you, Mindy Kaling. And, also, now I know the definition of laugh-out-loud-funny and I kind of hurt myself trying to keep the laughter inside. It is a hilarious collection of essays from a star I knew little about. I love The Office but I didn’t know she was a writer for the show before she was an actress. Please take this book if you have a long flight. I promise it will help!
14. Moon Over Tokyo by Siri Mitchell~ Another Siri Mitchell book! While visiting Korea, I needed something easy and familiar to read on the train. I loved this (again, cheesy and predictable) book about a young American woman working in Japan.
13. The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball~ This may have been my favorite so far! It is the author’s true story about leaving her posh New York life because she fell in love with a farmer. The love story part of this book is so real and raw. She is able to articulate so well the cost of choosing to love one person and how it doesn’t always feel worth it (but is). Just as good, if not better, is her thorough descriptions of the different tasks of starting a farm from scratch. I was engrossed by her tales of the work she did and I even learned a bit about how farms work. Highly recommended!
12. The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens~ I never read Dickens in school and this is only my second of his books. I really enjoy the complicated relationships and history between all of the characters that gets revealed little by little. Also, throughout the story, I was so worried about Oliver though I knew this was the kind of book that would work itself out in the end. Another audible book.
11. The Reason for God by Tim Keller~ I can not recommend this book enough! In so many ways, it deals with questions about the existence of God with logic. I didn’t really believe this was possible. I found comfort and conviction in this book. (Oh, I listened to this on audible.)
10. Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchel~ Well… another Chic Lit book! I have found that sometimes an easy read helps me keep up my goal of reading as much as I can. This book is basically a “Christian romance” book meaning it is sappy, cheesy, and predictable but void of gratuitous sex scenes. It was every bit as bad as I expected it to be and yet… there was also something so enjoyable about reading it. I missed it when it was over.
9. Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett~ This book of short stories was borrowed from Sung’s lit class reading list. I have never voluntarily read and enjoyed a book so driven by science. The different stories in this book all interact with and are driven by the sciences of the natural world. For so much of my life, I disassociated passion from science but I have been learning how wrong I was. This book is a perfect example of that.
8. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis~ I listened to this one on audible. BONUS- it was read by a British guy so I kept imagining C.S. Lewis was talking to me. That is not that far off, because this book began as a series of radio broadcasts during World War II. I think, though it was written for a different generation, this book is still so timely. Many issues he addresses seem eerily relevant to our time. I can not recommend it enough.
7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett~ I loved reading this book so much! It was so easy to read. I had trouble putting it down and I definitely lost sleep over it. I think it is such a wonderful feeling to be engrossed in a book like that so I’m very thankful. I did feel some skepticism, however, as I read this. I think this book deals realistically with some issues (segregation in the South during the 60s, the complicated relationships between black maids and the white children they raised). However, I think the response of the book was too optimistic. I think the work that was actually done during the Civil Rights Movement was harder than this book shows and I think the good, warm feeling I got at the end of the book shows it was a little to neat and tidy. I would still recommend it though.
6. Perelandra by C. S. Lewis~ I found this one, at times, more engaging than Out of the Silent Planet but then, for the most part, it was harder to get through. I will read the last one after a loooooong break. The actual plot of it is really interesting but there are long breaks of scenery description or theology that I found challenging to stick with. However, I was really encouraged by the way this book dealt with the subject of temptation and I’m glad I read it.
5. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis~ I can’t blame this book that it didn’t hold my interest. Honestly, I was really sad to finish reading The Poisonwood Bible and I had gotten so invested in the landscape of the Congo, it was pretty difficult for my imagination to switch gears to Mars. However, after I took a little break from this book (see above) I finally got really into the plot and characters and was so inspired by the last few chapters that I decided to go ahead and start the next book in this series.
4. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot~ My number 5 book (see below) was taking to long to finish and I feared my reading momentum was slowing down so I switched gears to some easy-to-read chick lit. I loved reading Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries in high school and I found this book from the Heather Well’s Mystery Series equally fun to read. A bit predicatable and not super deep but, in the end, I wound up being suprised. And it helped me speed up my reading momentum again!
3. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver~ This is the beautiful, tragic story of a misguided missionary in the Congo as told by his wife and four daughters. I found the storytelling engaging and it raised powerful questions about love, identify and forgiveness. I also realized how little I know about the history of Africa, in general, and I’d like to follow-up with some historical texts. Please let me know if you have recommendations.
2. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp~ I found the very practical message of this book extremely helpful and challenging– spending our time focusing on what we have to be thankful for can put us in a more right relationship with God. I’m still turning over the things Voskamp suggested in my mind.
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez~ The imagery and writing style in this book is so beautiful and unique. I loved Garcia Marquez’s style when I read it in short stories but this is my first of his novels. Unfortunately, I listened to this on Audible and because so many characters have the same or very similar names (it is about a long family line) I got confused a lot and I think I missed a lot important details. I think this book deserves more of my attention later on.